Paul Westphal, a member of both the Naismith and College Basketball Halls of Fame, passed away Saturday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 70 years old.
While Westphal may be best remembered for his NBA coaching career, he started his career in the NAIA and NCAA, including stints at Grand Canyon and Pepperdine. He led the Waves to NCAA Tournament in 2002 by way of a WCC title and also won an NAIA National Championship with Southwestern Baptist Bible in 1988.
A member of the College Basketball HOF mostly for his playing days, earning second team AP All-American honors in 1971 and served as the USC Trojans‘ captain the following year. He was selected 10th overall in the 1972 by the Boston Celtics, launching a 12-year NBA playing career. He won a NBA championship with Boston in 1974 but was a perennial All-Star and All-NBA performer during his first stint with the Phoenix Suns, who retired his number #44.
“He will be remembered for his generosity, leadership and love for the game, which defined his many years in the NBA,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to Paul’s wife, Cindy, and their family.”
He later coached the Suns (1992-95) and Supersonics (1998-2000) – both teams he played for – as well as the Sacramento Kings (2009-12), going 318-279 in ten seasons as a NBA coach, plus 27-22 in the playoffs (reached the NBA Finals in 1993, his first year with the Suns).
credit to the Phoenix Suns/NBA.com for the image